Roasted Chestnuts

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You know the song, right? It’s called “The Christmas Song,” but most of us know it as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” I have heard that song all my life, but I had never eaten a chestnut. I figured they were like walnuts or something, and couldn’t figure out how in the world a nut got an entire Christmas song to itself. I mean, I get peppermint having a song, or even gingerbread. But chestnuts? Clearly, some political move from the chestnut lobby.

So when our Produce Box arrived last week with a bag of chestnuts from a local farm, I thought it would be a good time to see what all the hype was about. I decided to make a chestnut sausage stuffing for Thanksgiving and to prep the chestnuts, I would roast them not over an open fire (torrential rain here), but in the oven. I was a bit intimidated by the whole “cut an x in the nut shell or it will explode” business, but it all turned out well. I have a little serrated paring knife that worked very well at cutting through the shell, and nothing exploded inside my oven (which is good because calling a repair person the week of Thanksgiving is a good way to end up with a dinner of grilled cheese).

After cutting the X into each shell, I put the nuts (cut side up) in a cake pan and popped them into a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes. Here are the before and after photos:

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I let the roasted nuts cool for 10 minutes before peeling them and that was ample time. The nut shells came off quite easily and were tossed into the compost bin. I tasted one of the warm nuts, and couldn’t believe how meaty it tasted. Wow! I tried another one in case the first was some kind of abberation. Delicious! It took a great deal of self-control not to eat all of them and adjust my stuffing recipe to suit pecans. In fact, the next time I see them offered by The Produce Box, I am going to order more. Talk about great football snacks!

So now when I hear “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” this holiday season, I will have a better frame of reference. And I’ve tried a new local farm product this week, too! Hope the rest of the chestnuts make it to Thursday 🙂

Roasted Chestnuts

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. With a sharp paring knife, score an “x” on the flat side of the nut, cutting through the shell.
  3. Put the nuts, cut side up, in a roasting pan or other shallow, oven-safe pan.
  4. Roast the chestnuts for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let nuts cool for about 10 minutes.
  6. Peel the shells from the nut meat and discard the shells.
  7. Use the nuts immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.
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